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Enjoying God Blog


Michael Reeves’ book, Spurgeon on the Christian Life, has just been released by Crossway. It is part of the Theologians on the Christian Life series to which I earlier contributed a volume, Packer on the Christian Life.

I’ve only just started working my way through what I anticipate will be a wonderful and encouraging book. Early on, Reeves mentions something about Spurgeon that most of us have known. It has to do with his love of cigars! Here is how Reeves put it:

“But perhaps it is Spurgeon’s cigar smoking that best reveals his sunny playfulness as well as his vivacious willingness to enjoy created things. Personally, Spurgeon found great pleasure in cigars; he argued that the Bible gave him liberty to smoke them, and he believed they helped his throat as a preacher. He was sensitively aware, however, that many Christians felt otherwise, and he was keen not to offend or let them stumble over the issue. When his statement that he smoked ‘to the glory of God’ was printed in the newspapers as if it had been a flippant crack, he was sorry that prominence had been given to what seemed to him a small matter, and quickly wrote to explain:

‘The expression “smoking to the glory of God” standing alone has an ill sound, and I do not justify it; but in the sense in which I employed it I still stand to it. No Christian should do anything in which he cannot glorify God; and this may be done, according to Scripture, in eating and drinking and the common actions of life. When I have found intense pain relieved, a weary brain soothed, and calm, refreshing sleep obtained by a cigar, I have felt grateful to God, and have blessed His name; this is what I meant, and by no means did I use sacred words triflingly.’

That said, in the right context he would happily use his cigar to replace religiosity with cheerful enjoyment of Christian liberty. William Williams records a day out he took with his students:

‘It was a beautiful early morning, and on arriving all were in high spirits – pipes and cigars alight, and looking forward to a day of unrestrained enjoyment. He was ready waiting at the gate, jumped up to the box-seat reserved for him, and, looking round with astonishment, exclaimed:

‘What, gentlemen! Are you not ashamed to be smoking so early?’

‘Here was a damper! Dismay on every face. Pipes and cigars one by one failed and dropped out of sight. When all had disappeared, out came his cigar-case; he lit up and smoked away serenely. Astonishment was now on every face. One of the party nearest to him said, ‘I thought you said you objected to smoking, Mr. Spurgeon?’ ‘Oh no,’ he replied: ‘I did not say I objected. I asked if they were not ashamed, and it appears they were, for they have put them all out.’ And he puffed away quite serenely.’

[Cited in Reeves, pp. 30-31]

1 Comment

In contrast to a Baptist church I know where people could not have any role or ministry in the church when they smoke. But great story about a great preacher and a good example of dealing with christian freedom in daily life.

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